Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The incomplete book

Chapter 1

“The formidable curse”, he read the title and loved it. He always wanted to read such a book. And now he had one for himself. He carefully kept it in the drawer of his study. While leaving, he turned back and looked at the drawer, thinking ‘Why don’t I just start with it, one page maybe’. He went back to the drawer, opened it and took out the book. He read, “The formidable curse” and “Chapter 1: The Visitor” and
“Those were the months of dryness and bitter cold and little Joshua sat near the bonfire along with his uncle, parents and others. They were a part of community of farmers and shepherds and those winters were the worst times of the year for them, as the whole of land and water around, and perhaps everything distantly visible were covered with snow. After sometime, while sitting near bonfire, Joshua felt thirsty but ignored the feeling. They only had some raw meat and nothing else for themselves, and they didn’t cook the meat, or they’d loose perhaps the last source of water for them.
It is said that these winters were not natural, but were a curse upon their society by some unknown visitor. He had said, “Thou shall suffer the way I have suffered because of you all, thou shall have inhabitable conditions here but will not die. The winters and dryness would be pain, suffering and only the one who doesn’t belong to your society, nor believes in your evil practices, but loves you all as his own family, shall restore thy summers and rains to you.
Alas, the visitor…”

He heard a familiar voice calling from downstairs, “Sir, we have a visitor here,” which brought him back to his study from those cold biting winters. It was as if he’d been there for the past few minutes. He felt his shivering dissipate quickly and as the warmth of the room entered his cold body, he felt the sense of warmth inside. He loosened his body, unclasped his hands, and without looking at the book, quickly kept it back into the drawer.

“What is it Sebastian?” he asked as he left the room and reached the stairs. But he didn’t have to wait for a response.

“Uncle, it’s me, Nick! How’ve you been?” said a young man in his early 20s, while getting up from the couch.

“Nick dear, how’re you?” he exclaimed, smiling, as he walked down the stairs and towards him, though it took him a few seconds to recognize his nephew.

“I am fine, uncle. How have you been all these years? Looks like you haven’t changed at all. You still keep yourself busy in your study.”

“Oh yeah, that’s my way of living, and I like it!” he said excitedly, “So what made you visit your uncle after so many years?”

“Well finally I’ve completed my college and got a job. I am an architect now.”

“That’s great news.” his uncle interrupted.

“And during my college life, I couldn’t visit you! You lived quite far from my home and college. I don’t know why you had to do this to yourself and to us. I still don’t know why you left us that evening.”

“Well, that’s history now, I suppose.” his uncle smiled, with guilt and a deep breath.

“Mother misses you a lot.”

“Nick, maybe I should show you around, and then I need to leave for some important business. I want you to enjoy your stay while you are here. Sebastian here will be of assistance to you while I am away this afternoon” his uncle said and showed him around.

“Wow Uncle, you do still have a lake in the neighborhood.”

“Yes Nick and I suppose that means that this weekend we can go fishing sometime.”

“I’d love to.”

Two days later:

“I had been waiting for you since last one hour by the lakeside, alone, with that fishing net in my hand and staring the water in the lake, and mountains beyond that. The place looked wonderful you know, but I wanted it to by like the old days, you showing me around, we sitting together.”

When he didn’t get any response, Nick was surprised.

“If you had some work to do, you could have just told me. We’d have gone sometime later.”

No response again.

Nick was standing at the doorway of the study; his uncle was sitting on a chair, with his back facing the door, in a stiff pose as if reading something, and surprisingly looked cold. He didn’t budge at all. He was totally fixed in one position, though Nick saw him shivering occasionally. He waited for a couple of minutes, thinking that he might be sleeping, but that twitching in his uncle’s body, that occasional shivering made him sense that something was wrong.

“Uncle, Uncle Mark!” this time Nick raised his voice.

Mark’s body gave a jolt and jumped on his chair. Nick saw his body loosening, relaxing, as he shook a little, then turned and said, “O hello Nick, when did you come? So, is it time to go fishing!”

Nick simply stared at him.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Pointless Literally!

Language helps us communicate and express ourselves. We use words which help convey the meaning in the best way possible. But most of the times, as I have observed and as many others might also have, that words are not good enough to express oneself completely. We consciously or sub-consciously use body language, facial expressions, voice tone to convey ourselves in a better way. A smile may not always mean happiness or good feeling, it can also be a sarcastic one, which might mean something bitter!
The word "Pointless" is made of "Point" and "Less" but the role of "less" in "pointless" changes from reducing the effect to nullifying the effect... the meaning changed but what if we take it literally? (Hindi does it better here).

The interesting part here is,
what if we don't any choice of using body language, facial expression, tone of voice?
What if the only thing we have is our words and the knowledge of language to express ourselves?
Yes, that's right. I'm talking about going for literal meaning rather than intuitively judging the context and mood for learning the meaning completely.
Tough, aint' it? But more than that, I guess it would be irritating!
Our usage of language has been a careless one, wherein we use figurative things sometimes. Yesterday one of my batch-mate said that he could convert a C# code to a java code within a second. Of course he meant "figuratively" but then I took it literally (my sole purpose was to irritate him!) and said, "not possible". He tried to defend himself by saying that he has a software which directly does that work. I again said that software might also take more than 1 second. He started cursing me and abusing me but I was rather amused :D He said that one should use one's mind and intuition to judge the meaning rather than taking things literally...
Also, we keep some short phrases for conveying long messages which replaces the long messages over a period of time. Language evolves, but we still use it in an ambiguous manner!
We've really become careless with our usage of language. Mixing hindi and english and using hinglish is still fine, but not conveying the precise meaning is what makes it worse!
My friend could have used the phrase, "in a short period of time" instead of "within a second".
Anyways, all my views are my own, and I don't expect anyone to agree with it, just wanted to share in on the blogosphere. :)
P.S. - Poll of the day, "Which is deadlier, taking meaning literally or abusing/using bad words against someone?"
P.S. - The easiest way to generate P.J.s or A.J.s (Alternative Jokes) is by taking the usage of language "Literally!"

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Natural Machines Part I

Each living being can be conveniently called a 'natural machine'. Humans perhaps come under the category of those natural machines which has the maximum capability to think and act on it's own. Each living and even non-living beings follow some unknown yet existing "Laws of Nature", like we had "Laws of Jungle" in Jungle Book! These laws determine our action/reaction, behavior, and decisions, emotions etc.
Also, evolution has played a major role in making us and this world as we are and as it is today.
Some of these Laws of Nature have been discovered like "Laws of gravity", "Laws of motion" etc., yet much is left to be discovered.
The functioning of our being is governed by laws and things like bio-chemical reactions, metabolism, hormonal secretions, or some other body reactions are what runs our body and gives the reaction to stimuli. This can be directly compared to a machine/android.
Hence, our physical being can be compared to a machine and hence can be simulated. The tricky thing here are "emotions". While I believe that emotions are also a part of our brain and can be simulated, many of my friends don't agree to this point.
Another general belief is that brain and mind are different. I think that brain is a physical structure which enables us to think, make decisions and consciously or unconsciously control our body. Mind is something that is the working brain and also handles our emotions. Now, many other species have brain, but they may not have a mind, which means a brain which can feel and interpret things differently so that changes are made. The mind helps us think differently and make discoveries and improve our lives.
I think this mind works on a randomized model which leaves some scope of unexpectedness and innovation but it still follows the "Laws of Nature". This would also mean that emotions, which are a part of what our mind generates, can also be modeled. I think that's also possible, but we haven't done enough "out of box" thinking to come up with a different and appropriate model for simulating emotions.
Also, what I feel is that each and everything that a living being, especially human (the most complex living being) comprises, are interdependent on each other and hence simulating one thing in isolation would not have complete meaning and our intended purpose might not be met!
For example, if we have to simulate pain, then only simulating pain may not give us correct picture of how human perceives pain. If we add present state of a human mind, it's emotions etc. and the kind of person he/she is (afraid of pain maybe), then maybe we'd get a better simulation.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

It's a wasted situation!

Forget the sciences, ignore the statistics...
because you don't need them in this case.
The only problem that EARTH faces at present is the mistakes that we make and then ignore! Later when these mistakes all combine and kick our ass, then we wake up to it and try to resolve it, but sometimes its too late...
One of the serious one is the problem of excessive wastage that we do since the time we wake up in the morning till the time we sleep at night.
Leaving taps open while getting ready in the morning, especially while brushing teeth, not using
"use-me"s and wasting food (one of the most common problem) etc.
All this sounds kiddish and trivial, but the fact is, problem of global warming, poverty, pollution... all this originates from our wasting resources and our reckless behavior...

I trust a normal human mind to be able to recognize that something is being wasted when it is being wasted, but we don't seem to care.
To be honest, making communities, going for rallies and discussing statistics and sciences don't always help, and sometimes become a waste of time, when some people are too stubborn or dumb to understand. So keeping it simple is better, i.e., the idea of not wasting things around.
That is why, the thing that we really need is self-awareness and knowing when we are being wasteful and stopping ourselves from doing so.

The best part is that everyone can help. A normal human mind always knows when wastage is being done, so we should shrug off our laziness and stop wasting (which doesn't mean using them
sparingly!) resources. Stopping wastage would promote hygiene and cleanliness.
Wastage is done for a lot of reasons, some of which are out of our control, for eg: industrial wastes, or wastage to earn profits etc. but if everyone stops wasting in his/her life, then I don't think anyone need be concerned what's happening outside their lives and EARTH would be able to bear our burden, even if we double in number.

Thank You for patiently reading it. :)

P.S. - I really respect the people who do the cleaning stuff... I can bet you it's the most difficult thing to do, to clean something that others can't tolerate the presence of, but wouldn't even get rid of, while it gets accumulated... :)
P.S. - I'm not a Jerk ! I'm trying to paint the correct picture, which people ignore and think,
"chalta hai" ! But I guess, NATURE doesn't think so. :)
P.S. - Ignore the informal slang language... that was just for fun :)
P.S. - Hyderabad Bloggers meet was on 1st March... had a good time.